Lately, the younger Verlander — once a Detroit Tigers pitching prospect, too — has been on a Shohei Ohtani kick, marveling at the once-in-a-lifetime phenom and talking up his MVP case at every turn. And (clears throat) no one can deny Ohtani is a spectacular and singular talent, and if somebody preferred him to Aaron Judge in the MVP race (clears throat for 35 minutes), that would make some level of sense.
That said, if there were ever a year where Judge could defeat Ohtani head-to-head, it would be this one, where the slugger has drilled 55 homers in early September, including 21 in the second half as the sole productive member of the Yankees’ lineup. In essence, Judge is approaching records in a year where he should be facing pitchouts. Unless someone believes Ohtani should earn the award in every season in which he participates because of his unique skill set, then this is probably the year for Judge to edge ahead.
Of course, when the Yankees are involved, arguments that used to matter no longer seem to. WAR used to decide the Mike Trout MVP battles of five years ago, but now Judge’s edge in WAR doesn’t matter to many because of Ohtani’s mound work. Judge’s defense? Irrelevant. Let’s see him pitch.
It’s all extremely exhausting, which is why this innocent Verlander observation Tuesday night stuck in our craw (and yes, obviously, that was the whole point of it).
Yankees fans bothered by Mike Trout MVP shade thrown at Aaron Judge
Oh, yeah! 60 homers should do it! As long as he’s not wearing a Yankees uniform! That would make him more valuable than the guy on his own team who we’ve been told is inherently more valuable than any other player! This shtick is so tiresome.
Add in the “If he stays healthy…”, which has been a Judge hater’s incorrect chorus for years now, and Verlander really hit a lot of pain points in one short tweet.
Judge, of course, has largely been healthy for a man of his unique stature, breaking a rib diving at the tail end of 2019 and busting his wrist on a hit by pitch that helped ruin the 2018 season. Other than that, he’s managed to participate in more games than not. Trout, of course, is battling through some sort of rare back issue that could cost him an increasing number of games.
Like most of Verlander’s work on social media — and his brother’s work on the mound — this tweet was designed in a lab specifically to haunt Yankee fans. What’s next? An innocent musing about how umpires need to lay off the low strike on Ohtani? A short porch quip that conveniently leaves out the other team’s ability to use the short porch, too? A picture of Jason Varitek?
No need to rush it out. Will probably be chewing on this one for a while longer.